She also takes the lead as Tina, a mother whose life is in turmoil her daughter, Emma (Sennia Nanua), is being bullied at school, she and husband Mick (Shaun Parkes) are trying to pay the bills by working all hours, and her parents (Anita Dobson and Christopher Fairbank) want to split up, but as Anita sang for the Eastenders’ theme, “Anyone can fall in love, but you must make the love last forever…”
So she does what all hard-done mothers do, and takes to the boxing ring…
We all know that kids can be complete bastards, and the one making life hell for Emma is classmate Jordan (Liv Hill), and that leads me into how there’s some great performances in this, particularly from rising star Liv Hill, who was the best thing about the recent Jellyfish, as well as Ms Dobson and Mr Fairbank, and also Rhona Mitra – who I first remember as a Lara Croft model for the Tomb Raider games in the ’90s – and she’s an old school ‘fiend’ of Tina’s, shall I say.
In addition, Russell Brand appears in voiceover only, a meditation guru, and is just about as convincing as the man on the Deep Relief advert who was clearly trying to look like him (which I blame on the advertising agency).
However, while I understand how it mixes boxing into the storyline, this ends up being a decent family-based drama, although one aspect is that she (as a middle-aged mother) also trains to become a boxer, which was a ridiculous stretch, and was just there to symbolise her ‘fight’ in real life situations.
There is a twist in the first half which I didn’t see coming – which obviously I won’t spoil, here, but which you’ll see when Tina’s having a conversation with Amanda. Also, the film is quite moving at times… and do you know another great thing about this film? It’s also wrapped up neatly in around 90 minutes. I’m getting increasingly sick and tired of films which ramble on for around 3 hours when they really don’t need to. Yes, Avengers and Quentin Tarantino, I’m looking in your direction!
NOTE: If you’re reading this and are being bullied at school, then TELL someone in confidence, such as a teacher you can trust. It will stop as soon as you can confide in them.
Running time: 91 minutes
Distributor: Sparky Pictures
Released: September 9th 2019
Director: Jessica Hynes
Producers: Noel Clarke, Jason Maza, Maggie Monteith, David Wade
Screenplay: Jessica Hynes
Tina Bell: Jessica Hynes
Gene Dunn: Anita Doson
Frank Dunn: Christopher Fairbank
Emma Bell: Sennia Nanua
Mick Bell: Shaun Parkes
Amanda Chadwick: Rhona Mitra
Beth Hunter: Sally Phillips
The Guru: Russell Brand
Viv Best: Cathy Tyson
Jordan Chadwick: Liv Hill
Dave: Robert James Collier
Heather: Alice Lowe
Boxing Spectator: Kevin Matadeen
Audience member: Kas Meghani
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.